The Chairman of Ogun State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caretaker Committee, Chief Tunde Odanye, spoke with Assistant Editor LEKE SALAUDEEN on the challenge of reconciliation and preparations for the state congress by the chapter.
How are you tackling the assignment of reorganising PDP in Ogun State?
It is quite interesting with the exception of unexpected interruption from one of the PDP groups in Ogun State. Eight states executives were dissolved by the national convention held in Abuja last August including Ogun State chapter. All other states have accepted the party’s decision and have received the care-taker committees with open mind and working with them. But in Ogun we have a group that have refused to recognise our committee and work with us. The group had even got two of our members arrested on trump-up charges. It was a sad reflection on police or whoever came up with the idea.
The Buruji Kashamu group insists the dissolution of the Adebayo Dayo-led executive contravenes the court order that it must not be dissolved. What is your reaction?
I could remember that thirty or more years ago, the law and the practitioners in this country are predictable. Lawyers were not involved in action of judicial rascality because the British law which we copied abhor such thing and the British lawyers will never engage in such practice. Though we have some ambitious politicians that do not believe in due process, the lawyers fighting their course are guilty of malfeasance; it doesn’t speak well of the profession.
The Supreme Court judgment had answered all issues on the protracted PDP crisis at the national and state levels. The Anambra High Court in a suit filed by one of the factions of the PDP in the state ruled that the Supreme Court judgment had answered all issues regarding the PDP crisis. For anyone to want re-open the issue or issues at the lower court is a mischief at its best.
For instance, the suit between Adebayo Dayo and Sikirullahi Ogundele in Ogun State is about which of them is authentic chairman. The Supreme Court had ruled that the PDP convention has the power to wind up the party. People are only trying to stand law on its head for selfish reasons.
What steps is your committee taking to reconcile the three factions in Ogun PDP?
There are seven groups. We have Obasanjo, Gbenga Daniel, Dimeji Bankole, Jubril Martins Kuye, Kashamu and two other groups. Six of them are at peace with the PDP National Executive and the state care-taker committee. We have reached out to Kashamu group so that they can be part of what we are doing. They should come back and take part in the congress and prove their popularity.
With the Supreme Court judgment, many members that left the party are coming back. Every step is being taken to reposition the party; we are now having a formidable opposition party to put All Progressives Congress (APC) government on its toes.
Some believe the crisis in Ogun PDP was caused by the ego of the dramatis personate. What do you think?
In every political setting, politicians play the act of brinkmanship; they use it as a bargaining chip. In Ogun PDP, we have six groups jostling for elective positions in 2019. Remember the party lost election in the state in 2011 as a result of split vote. The People’s Party of Nigeria (PPN) led by Daniel and the PDP fielded candidates. This gave Action Congress Of Nigeria (ACN) undue advantage to win the election.
There was also the problem of politicians who collected money meant for campaign from Abuja but sat over it. They also sold nomination papers to the highest bidders and not popular candidates. All these contributed to the party’s defeat in 2015. Good party leaders always look for good candidates to win elections. Ogun PDP is presently concerned on how to win in 2019. Those causing problem in the PDP are not interested in the party coming out victorious in the next election. They have a different agenda.
The Kashamu group has alleged that the composition of the state care-taker committee was tilted in favour of Gbenga Daniel. What is your reaction?
I was not there when the committee was composed. All I know is that all groups made in-put in the selection process. Each group nominated members except the chairman and the secretary. The composition reflects all groups. I know of three members that belong to Kashamu group. They feel shy of following the path of perdition. They retraced their steps from fighting the PDP National Care-taker Committee and the state care-taker committee. Kashamu didn’t deny they are not his people. When a benefactor is doing something wrong, the beneficiaries lack the courage to tell him the truth. Kashamu seems to be a lone ranger in the whole of PDP throughout the country. I advise him to have a rethink and return to the party to prove his popularity at the forthcoming state congress.
Observers say Senator Ahmed Makarfi has deviated from his ‘no victor, no vanquished’ policy. What is your view?
Immediately after the Supreme Court verdict, the Makarfi-led National Care-taker Committee embarked on reconciliation process. Many supporters of Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff are in PDP. For instance, the former PDP National Secretary, Prof. Wale Oladipo, who belonged to Sheriff group is considering contesting the chairmanship of the party. The only thing left to solve is what he is championing; dishing out attacks on Makarfi and the NCC.
However, Wale Oladipo comes with caveat. Some people believe it is Buruji Kashamu with or without Sheriff that is trying to take over the party again through the back door by sponsoring Oladipo and some other people to vie for these very important positions. But all said and done, they have the rights as party members to aspire for any position. How better can one prove that Makarfi and his NCC are actually implementing a ‘no victor, no vanquished’ policy by condoning his erstwhile “enemies” vying for positions as sensitive as the national chairman of the party and other positions.
Can you say PDD is now cohesive?
The PDP has never been as cohesive as it is now. Both Sheriff and Oladipo are back in the fold. Every person in Sheriff group are in PDP; they will all take part in the national convention holding in December this year.
Look at PDP in Oyo State which was hitherto fragmented into various groups are now working together. Similarly, the crisis in Lagos and Osun states chapters that had defied solutions have virtually embraced peace. Those that believe in us in Ogun PDP are back and ready to work with us. No more Makarfi or Sheriff group. What we have now is a united PDP.
What are the challenges facing your committee?
In every political setting, finance has always being the major problem. We don’t have enough funds to work with. When your party is not in power, it is always difficult to have adequate resources to manage the party. Donors do not like to invest their money on opposition party because they want immediate dividends from their investment. They consider investing on opposition party as taking risk.
The second problem we are facing is interruption from Kashamu who believes he is bigger than the party. He has been using law enforcement agencies wrongly to intimidate us.
What measures are you putting in place to ensure you are able to conduct a credible congress?
In all what we are doing, I make sure I carry every member of the committee along. I don’t take unilateral decision. We jointly take decisions and execute them together. The first thing I went out to do is to ensure even handed, create a level playing ground for every group and maintain neutrality. All groups will be treated equally but not everybody will be hundred per cent happy.
We have experienced and brilliant people in the committee; matured people who are old enough to be parents or uncles to some of us.
Do you think two months is enough for you to deliver?
Though the time is short but I can assure you that we will conduct a credible congress from where new state executive and national delegates will emerge. Members of the PDP in Ogun State are excited in participating in the congress. My pride will be the day that a PDP governor will be sworn in Abeokuta in 2019. I will also be glad to see PDP winning other elections such as local government, State House of Assembly and National Assembly in Ogun State.
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